On Reading: No More Number Goals

by Nancy


Last year, Dawn wrote an On Reading about the ups and downs of setting reading goals. I’ve always set goals to read a certain number of books in a year, and each year it’s gone up when I’ve blown away the goal. This year I set the lofty goal of 100 books. Last year I read 91, so I figured, what’s 9 more? Well 9 more is almost 1 more book per month, and most months I did read the average of 8-9 books needed to hit 100.

But having a goal has its issues:

  • I tend to shy away from longer books. Why read an 800 page book when I could read 2 or even 3 shorter books in the same time?
  • I’m never sure if I should include kids’ fiction in my total. If I read a middle grade novel to make sure it’s appropriate for Alex, do I include it? What if it’s a middle grade book for review? I don’t include picture books, but where do I draw the line?
  • Then there are the parenting or other non-fiction that I end up skimming or only reading pertinent chapters. If I don’t read every word in a book, should it be on the list?

Of course this is not to say that I won’t be tracking the books I read, I will still use Goodreads so I know what books I’ve read and when. But maybe this will be the year I step away from my spreadsheet. Anything I record in there can also be done in Goodreads, and it’s one less place to keep up to date.

And really, to say I’m not setting a goal is untrue. I want to re-read the last 3 Harry Potter books, I read the first 4 this year but didn’t get to finish them. I also want to read a series I’ve never read before: The Lord of the Rings. Those are all pretty long books, so my total will be a lot shorter than this year. But I’m ok with that. Reading should be fun, not a chore, and stressing over how many books I’ve read has been taking the fun out of it.

So you’re probably wondering if I did reach my goal of 100 books, and on December 30, I actually completed book number 102. For more on the books I read, check out my personal blog, Life With My Boys and Books.

Do you set goals to read a certain number of books in a year? Do you find it helpful to have a goal, or does it stress you out?

Nancy is looking forward to a year of good reading, no matter how many books she reads. She writes about her 2 boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.

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Nancy enjoys reading, cross stitch and carting her kids to sports practices and games. She chronicles life with her boys and books at Life With My Boys and Book

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrea January 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

I do set a number goal – mostly because I like the fun of the challenge to reach it. I definitely wouldn’t do it if it stressed me out (who really cares if I don’t reach my goal?) Since I read so many books, I’ve found it useful to keep track of the books I’ve read, it helps me remember them so I don’t get the same ones twice.


2 Jessica January 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

I do set a number goal too. Actually I have a geeky post with my 2012 reading goals up today (I even made pie charts…because I’m a dork like that).

And, to answer your specific questions: I count kid books as long as they’re at least 100 pages. As for parenting books, or other nonfiction that I don’t fully read, I count every other one. Figure if I skim two books, that equals 1 full read.

And have fun with the LOTR series! They’re some of my favorites, I re-read them every five years or so.


3 Jennifer January 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

I know exactly what you’re saying about shying away from longer books in order to reach a “goal.” I don’t set a number goal, but I would like to track my numbers better this year.

I also count children’s novels, but whenever I’m talking about how much I read, I make sure to disclose that, like “I read 8 – 10 books a month, but some of those are children’s novels and some are audiobooks.”


4 Alexia561 January 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I set a reading goal on Goodreads, as I like to challenge myself. But you’re right about shying away from large books in favor of the shorter ones. Need to work on that! But I do count short stories, so don’t know why you shouldn’t. A book is a book!


5 Dawn January 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

This past fall’s return to full-time work really took a significant chunk out of my reading time, so I’m not going to set myself up for personal disappointment again. I’m not setting any number goals this year, but only accepting a few books for review each month IS making me be a bit more thoughtful about what I’m choosing to read. I’ll still track my books with Shelfari and on my blog, but I’m trying to put less weight on the number, personally.

Happy 2012 reading, Nancy!


6 Maddy January 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm

No, I do not have goals for my reading. I have a stack on my nightstand and dip and pick into any number of them depending upon what kind of mood I’m in. It’s quite an eclectic collection and now I have a whole tonne more since I was lucky enough to be given an ipad – electronic books, and I’m also delving into Audible for when I’m busy with dull domestic chores on the go.


7 Tina January 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I haven’t set a goal ever for how many books I want to read in a year. However, I do always know how many books I read the previous year, and would always like to read more than I did in the prior year. In 2011 I read 300 books, which means that I need to be ready to not break that total. I have passed on some great books simply because they are so long I know they will take a lot of time to get through them, meaning I won’t get as many books read in a month.


8 MotherReader January 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I’ve always found number goals and reading challenges to be more stressful than encouraging. I just don’t need one more thing to keep track of, I guess.


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